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AUS Tertiary Update Vol.4 No.3

AUS Tertiary Update Vol. 4 No. 3, 22 February 2001
In our lead story this week…..
The chair of the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee, Professor James McWha, is urging prompt government action to prevent New Zealand universities falling further behind their counterparts overseas. Professor McWha says the urgent need for additional funding has been emphasised by Australia's decision to boost spending on education, research and innovation by A$3bn. He suggests that New Zealand cannot afford to wait for the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission's (TEAC) report on funding learning and research -- now due out in September. Instead he calls on the government to "act now on its desire for an innovative strategy that bridges tertiary education, research training and discovery with the commercial application of research, science and technology output".

Also in Tertiary Update this week:
1. Appeal for NZ help for USP
2. The 80:20 rule
3. NZEI calls for student loan relief
4. Improved student loan reporting
5. Maori education hui
6. Irish salaries on the up and up
7. New British standards for academic degrees
8. UK computer lease scheme abandoned.

The AUS President, Neville Blampied has called on the government to help the growth and development of the University of the South Pacific (USP) in Fiji as a flagship regional education provider, and a significant partner for New Zealand institutions. In a letter to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Education, and the Associate Minister for Tertiary Education, Mr Blampied reports on the situation he found when he visited USP after last year's coup. He says staff want New Zealand to foster support for the University's charter among other Pacific governments and want New Zealand's representative on the USP Council to take a stand on issues like academic freedom. Mr Blampied notes that USP is faced with severe competition for students as foreign universities -- including Massey University -- contemplate setting up campuses there, and some Pacific nations plan their own universities. He says USP staff would welcome collaborative arrangements for student and staff exchanges with Australian and New Zealand universities.
Meanwhile, the outgoing Vice-Chancellor of USP, Esekia Solofa says the institution is actively working to develop post-secondary institutions in other Pacific nations to provide pre-degree and undergraduate courses at a national level. In an interview with Pacific news agency, Pacnews, he said that, rather than being a threat to USP, the national institutions would play a complimentary role.
THE 80:20 RULE
AUS believes plans by Auckland University to introduce an 80:20 split in staffing between tenured and non-tenured academic staff are in breach of Employment Relations Act (ERA) provisions on fixed-term appointments. AUS is to write to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Hood seeking an urgent review of the proposals.

The country's largest education union, NZEI is seeking a freeze on student loan interest while a teacher is working as part of its next round of contract negotiations. NZEI says student loans are a major issue for its members -- 85% of whom are women -- since research shows that it takes female graduates almost twice as long as men to repay them.

The public is to get more information about the student loan scheme in the wake of a report last year by the Controller and Auditor-General on the level of accountability surrounding the scheme. The changes include improved forecasting of debt levels and an annual report tabled in Parliament. Loan figures will also be published quarterly on Inland Revenue and Work and Income websites.

A hui to discuss developing a strategic plan for Maori education is to be held this weekend. Hui Taumata Matauranga is being hosted by Tuwharetoa, and will be attended by the Ministers of Education and Maori Affairs and the Associate Minister for Tertiary Education. AUS Tumuaki, Hapai Park, and Te Awhina Arahi, Naomi Miller will also be there.


The University of Limerick is offering top salaries for 24 new positions on its Research Scholars Programme -- positions involving virtually no teaching. It has also begun an international campaign for candidates in the fields of information and communications technology; biosciences and biomedical engineering; materials and surface science; quality, productivity and work; and humanities and social sciences. The move follows a big increase in research spending from US$3m to around US$575m. over a three year period. The university will give the successful applicants research seed money for five years, after which they must find their own funding. But, "Tertiary Update" would like to know -- will the offer extend to Limerick's proposed campus at Taupo?

Britain's Quality Assurance Agency -- an independent body setting higher education standards and auditing universities -- has published new standards for academic degrees. They set out what students should accomplish before degrees are conferred. Universities are expected to put them in place by 2003. The Agency also attacks the long tradition in Britain of graduates being able to purchase an MA for a nominal fee, remarking that "the MAs granted by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge are not academic qualifications".

Warwick University has dropped a controversial scheme to make laptop computers compulsory for all students arriving in 2003. Poorer students would have been given cash to buy their computer. The scheme had been criticised by student leaders as a back-door method of hiking fees and likely to make the university elitist. The university now says it is extremely unlike that laptops would be made compulsory under its planned "e-strategy".
AUS Tertiary Update is produced weekly on Thursdays and distributed freely to members of the union and others. Back issues are archived on the AUS website:

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